VISTA marks 40 years of fighting poverty in America
23 May 2006
The Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) programme today released a new book of volunteer stories as part of a two-day series of events to mark more than 40 years of fighting poverty in America.
The book, "VISTA… In Service to America", celebrates VISTA’s enduring history of service to those in low-income areas through the personal photographs, reflections, and experiences of 21 VISTA members and alumni. It will be released at an evening reception that will gather together some of the key people who developed VISTA as part of the war on poverty, including Sargent and Eunice Shriver, former Senator Harris Wofford, and Frank Mankiewicz; VISTA members and alumni; nonprofit and anti-poverty leaders; and current administrators of the program from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The VISTA celebration will include the awarding of the “Shriver Award for Fighting Poverty” to several lawmakers who have been influential in supporting the program over the years.
“For more than 40 years, VISTA volunteers have been on the frontlines of the war on poverty, doing extraordinary work to help people and communities lift themselves out of poverty,” said Corporation CEO David Eisner. “VISTA’s mission is more important today than ever, and VISTA’s legacy lives on through its 6,000 current members, the civic leadership of its alumni, and the ongoing work of the thousands of anti-poverty programs started by VISTAs over the years.”
Since its founding in 1965, more than 177,000 Americans have answered VISTA’s call to devote a year of full-time service living and working in low-income communities to help eradicate poverty.
Today, VISTA is part of AmeriCorps, and it supports more than 6,000 members each year to develop programs, recruit community volunteers, raise funds, help manage projects, and otherwise build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to help low-income people and communities improve their economic conditions. VISTA members help to fight illiteracy, expand job opportunities, develop financial assets, reduce homelessness, improve health services, reduce unemployment, increase housing opportunities, and expand access to technology.